Tuesday, July 28, 2020

If you can keep your head...

Here's how it went down this morning.

It was 0126 when I woke up with a bad cough. I mean a bad cough, a full bore flu cough. The kind that hurts when you cough, like someone is tearing at your bronchi with sandpaper encrusted fingers. I had a pounding headache and a sore throat and I felt really sick and really weak.

Fuck, I thought. Is this the fucking wuhandromeda shit?

Of course that's the first thing I thought, given the current planetary covid psychosis infecting seemingly everyone.

On the one hand, I had reason for legitimate concern. While the symptoms were solidly consistent with a bad case of influenza, the onset of this thing was different than any flu I'd ever had or heard about. In my personal experience flu symptoms come on gradually over many hours or even a day or two. My clinical training and experience echo this. A person's immune system ramps up to fight the viral invaders while at the same time the virus numbers are growing as they transform healthy cells into virus factories and grow the viral population exponentially. The body becomes a battleground, and the symptoms the infected person experiences -- fever, chills, aches, fatigue, cough, sore throat, headache -- those symptoms are nearly all caused by the toxicity of cellular destruction and decomposition.

The sudden onset of severe upper respiratory symptoms was very, well, wrong. Influenza doesn't work like that. But what if covid does? Fuck.

In addition to a painful cough, there was a good bit of panic bubbling up in my chest. Fuck. Fuck-fuck-fuck-fucktards!

Okay, deep cleansing breath (complete with painful, wracking cough). Think! Scale, context, perspective! Time for an objective assessment.

When seeing a patient in a clinical, field, or emergency setting you generally follow the SOAP format. Subjective, Objective, Assessment, Plan. Subjective is what the patient says. Objective is what you observe, including vital signs, exam, labs, images, etc. Assessment is basically a working diagnosis. Plan is what you and the patient decide to do about the malady or injury.

Subjectively I feel like shit. I feel really sick. Cough, headache, sore throat, aches and pains, fatigue, malaise.

What's going on objectively though? Yes, I'm coughing, I hurt, I feel terrible. So, vital signs. B/P is 118/77, pulse 65. A pulse of 65 is almost certainly too low for a person with a raging viral infection. Hmmm. Temperature? Hey, it's 97.9. That doesn't fit either. Hmmm squared. And frankly, the sudden onset is wrong for a viral URI. Hmmm cubed.

In the midst of this I have a call in to the VA in Cheyenne. My reasoning when I dialed the number and joined the perma-hold queue was that I should be tested for the fancy new wuhandromeda strain. On its face, not a terrible idea. Except for a couple of things.

Firstly, do I have confidence in the tests? As best I can tell, the present iteration of test kits have a 50 percent false positive rate. So no, I have no confidence in potential test results.

Secondly, would an actual correct test result change any potential treatment plan? No. Treatment for everyone with symptoms if influenza is almost entirely supportive. Anti-virals (tamiflu, a stab in the dark), mucolytics (guaifenisin/mucinex), analgesic/antipyritic (tylenol), fluids, rest, airway support if needed, antibiotics if a secondary bacterial infection shows up, etc. So positive or negative test, same treatment plan.

Thirdly, I'm not liking the politics/ideology of this pseudo-pandemic. I don't really want to be a data point used primarily to grow political/government power when a so-called emergency pandemic situation has prompted an abandonment of objective medical science and Constitutional protections.

As I reach for my phone to end the call, someone rogers up. Fuck.

As the conversation develops I'm thinking. If I have influenza -- whether it's wuhandromeda or not -- it's going to be up to my immune system to prevail or fail. I'm in very good shape and there's not a thing wrong with my immune system, as far as I know. One thing that might help is a course of antivirals. The science is sketchy on this, but the potential positive probably outweighs the potential negative. In other words, even if it doesn't really help it probably won't hurt.

The plan becomes this. I'll take tylenol and mucinex right now (it's just gone 0200) and at 0600 I'll push on over to Cheyenne, where the VA minions will be prepared to test me for wuhandromeda, assess my illness, and treat it more or less appropriately (I hope!).

At 0600 I'm feeling better. The cough and sore throat are mostly gone. I still feel significant fatigue and malaise, but overall I seem to be miraculously healing myself. So what the fuck?

Then I remember. Last evening I was participating in a meeting when the olden florescent lights begin to fail Soon the room is filled with the stench of dying 1950's era ballast. It's quite an unpleasant odor, but we were in the middle of something important so we all hang in there for another 30 minutes to resolve the problem we were working. The lights were turned off and the stench slowly subsided. When we were done it was very good to get outside and into the fresh air. I head home and hit the sack, electrical outgassing completely forgotten.

Well, shit. Smoke/gas inhalation fits the symptoms better than regular or wuhandromeda influenza.

Nevertheless, I decide to press on over to Cheyenne. I'd like to get a real physician to giggle check my diagnosis. If I get a pretend physician I can always leave. My assessment of the chances of getting a real physician doing real physician stuff -- based on my direct experience -- is about one in five. Maybe one in ten. We'll see.

Cut to the chase, and I'm probably right. My vitals, labs, and x-rays are clean, with two exceptions. The wuhandromeda test will take five to nine million government working days. It's unlikely to be positive though, and if positive it's unlikely to be really positive. Also, the microscopic exam of my sputum (coughed up lung stuff) revealed "particulates consistent with mild to moderate smoke inhalation."

I find it illuminating that my initial reaction to waking up sick and coughing was to fear the magic wuhandromeda strain. At least I was able to work through my fears and near-panic and emerge unscathed.

So there you have it. Probably not wuhandromeda. Certainly smoke inhalation. As of writing this I'm still coughing up junk but feeling enormously better. So much better that...

Okay. I just put a Barska 4x BDC scope on the Colt LEC (Law Enforcement Carbine). It's a good zombie gun, and with the Barska mounted on the carry handle I can use either the irons or the scope. So the thing needs sighted in. Duh.

Lovely day.

Can I still shoot?


A bit tricky to sight in today...

Not all that bad on the results though...

Could be worse.

Love it when a plan comes together...

Sighted in and reasonably happy with the rifle and my marksmanship, and also feeling a thousand percent better than I did at 0126, I decide to hump it. I'm rocking a different tactical vest today but still have the same basic 40 pound load. Ammo, water, survival shit, rifle, pistol.

I was still coughing up junk. So what? A good lung workout was called for, something to get lots of air moving in and out and force the lungs to purge all foreign particulates.

So I did 2.72 miles in 40 minutes.

It was a good hike on a beautiful day. Hills. Lots of hills. That gave everything a lovely workout, including the lungs, which did just fine.

As the day begins to wind down, what sucked at the beginning has morphed into a life experience to embrace.

Be well and embrace the blessings of liberty.


  1. I'm glad you're ok, whatever the cause. I think you're right about the number's game. I think the numbers game runs like this. I get tested, I'm positive, That's one. Quarantine for 14 now I have to get tested again, Positive, still no symptoms though, but that's two. 14 more. Still feel fine, but gotta get tested again, Still positive Three rinse repeat until what? you get a negative? Does that mean you'll never get the disease? Even if you run into a real sick person? Much like you, if I start to feel bad and have symptoms I'll go see a doctor and start down the slippery slope and only after I've had the symptoms for a few days. Yes, I'll stay home during those days, yes I'll be more religious about a mask (and probably one that actually works, say my flight helmet with the oxygen mask clipped up). But, my BS meter has been going off like gang busters for several weeks (months) now and it's getting annoying.

    1. Thanks juvat. It's getting very annoying. I'm somewhat surprised (less and less over time) at how many people have gone all in for the brain washing. It's the hubris of thinking one is smarter than the average bear. None of this is rocket surgery. If a person can be humble enough to admit that they don't know everything about everything they can figure stuff out pretty well with open eyes/open mind/and curiosity about reality. But that there don't make no sense a-tall to most of the merkin ape lizards I interact with.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  2. Good to hear you have a sound resolution to the condition. I've inhaled burning electrical stuff like that (and worse) numerous times in my career. All it ever gave me was a headache and a sore throat; never inhaled enough to cough up junk, though.

    Didn't watch the videos, but looks like you achieved getting your optic dialed-in.

    What range did you use? My AR instructor had "Charts and Graphs" showing if you zeroed one at 25 yds it would be back on zero at 125 yds, which is very convenient when all you have is a 25 yd range!

    I'll have to try it out at the in-laws ranch and see if that holds true.

    1. Thanks drjim! I'm sure you were smart enough to run away rather than hang out in the smoke for 30 minutes...

      It's a good question about AR trajectory and where it intersects zero point of aim elevation deviation. I'm going to try to write a bit more about it today. Needless to say, the one true answer is, "it depends..." This might be somewhat helpful -- https://prairieadventure.blogspot.com/2017/02/gravitys-rainbow.html

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  3. I've come down with "something" a couple of times since March. Once it involved a fever, so I stayed home rather than go sit in an emergency room for the entire effing day. (Did that last year when my finger tried to commit seppuku, bleeding like a stuck pig, hurt like Hell and I sat there watching nurses entering data into computer terminals. No, really.) Finally got sewed up by a doctor and a couple of med students. One nurse was bound and determined to cut my wedding ring off, fat fingers ya know, she knew nothing about heat transfer and the saw blade was as dull as a rusted butter knife. Finally got that off, which was annoying as Hell. Hey, let's treat the what hurts right now bit, worry about the other shit later.

    Yeah, I'll have to be on death's doorstep to go back to an emergency room.

    1. Our government run medical system has gone entirely to shit, just like nearly all of the rest of it. And now that health care workers have re-branded themselves as heroes one is well advised to pay attention and be firmly in control of one's own health care.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting Sarge!

  4. Good some of your experiences at the Cheyenne VA are positive. Mine haven't been and the Loveland VA, for me, has been the shits. My attitude probable plays a part.

    I've a bill floating around that no one seems willing to bill properly. Small amount, under $100, but damn, I am not going to pay it so lazy shits can slide.

    Happy to hear you don't have the Election Flu.

    1. Thanks WSF! The secret to surviving health care is to have an idea of what's going on and what needs to happen. You can't trust that anyone in health care today has your best interest as an overriding goal.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  5. Glad you turned out not to have the Covid thing. I appreciate the listing of your symptoms and working thru the decision tree and finding a real culprit.

    But, that Covid thin is a killer and must not be taken lightly. Retired USAF friend had a great doctor he loved. Three weeks ago the doc came down with the worst flu he ever had and cleared his calendar and went to ER. His funeral is this week. 56 years old, healthy, smart, but dead. Early aggressive treatment seems to be the key if it gets beyond the sniffles stage. So, yeah, I am continuing to mask up and stay away from people as much as possible, but not going to reach the hermit on a desert island level.

    Looks like your new scope lets you do a respectable job hitting stuff. I wonder if you could take down the neighbor's thistle crop from your side of the fence. Not as good as digging them up, but a lot less work and much more fun. They'll drop when you hit them too!

    1. Thanks John, I appreciate that.

      One should be rigorous when assessing anecdotal evidence. Covid is simply influenza. All influenza is deadly if it overwhelms the immune system. All immune systems have weak points and are affected by many different things such as stress, fatigue, ongoing battles against low-level infections, shortening telomeres (aging), etc. Anyone can encounter a perfect storm where an infection lines up perfectly against points of weakness and defeats the immune system. To beat the dead horse, covid is exactly the same as any other influenza.

      There is some merit to the herd immunity argument but for practical purposes it doesn't matter, just as having a test result doesn't matter. What matters is whether you get infected by influenza and whether your immune system can win out.

      Probably the best advice is to eat healthy, exercise properly, get adequate rest, and figure out how to appropriately deal with stress.

      That's an interesting idea for thistle control. What makes a lot of sense for the neighbor's thistle is for me to clip and collect seed heads and destroy them. Not as much fun as digging but quicker and more efficient in many respects.

      I'm not at all satisfied with the Barska. It's a good stopgap but I'm going to order a new red dot and magnifier. Old eyes love red dots. At leas mine do!

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  6. Evert,
    If you want an impossible read try Pynchon's MASON & DIXON. It's in olde english and will bust yr stones in a satisfying way.

  7. Yep, smoke inhalation will do that to you every time... Ask any VFD member... sigh Not bad shooting either! Take it and run!